- Overview of British Citizenship
- Routes to British Citizenship
- What are the British Citizenship Requirements?
- What Documents Do I Need to Register for British Citizenship?
- What are the British Citizenship Fees?
- Who Can I Use as A Referee for My Citizenship Application?
- What is the Life in the UK Test?
- English Language Requirements for UK Citizenship
- What is the Difference Between British Citizenship and ILR?
- What if I Don’t Meet the Good Character Citizenship Requirement?
- What is the British Citizenship Ceremony?
- How Can Birmingham Immigration Lawyers Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Overview of British Citizenship
British citizenship is backed by British law and confers rights to work, study and live in the UK permanently. It is also what you need before applying for a British passport. When you become a citizen, you no longer need permits to enter the UK. It also allows you to enter certain countries without applying for a visa.
With British citizenship, you have rights to public funding, government pension and NHS care. You also have the right to vote and be voted for during elections.
Applying for British citizenship is a serious affair, and so you must meet certain eligibility and English language requirements to apply.
The requirement you have to meet depends on the route you are taking toward British citizenship.
Born in the UK
Being born in the UK does not automatically mean you are a British citizen. You will still need to apply to become a citizen. If you were born in the UK after 1983 and are younger than 18, with at least one parent becoming a citizen or getting indefinite leave to remain (ILR), you can apply.
If you were born and lived in the UK continuously until you turned 10, you can apply for British citizenship.
Civil Partnership or Marriage To a British Citizen
Before you can apply for British citizenship as the partner or spouse of a UK citizen, you must have lived in the UK in the past 3 years. In addition to this, you must also have settled under the EU Settlement Scheme or have permanent residence.
Permanent Residence or Indefinite Leave to Remain
If you have held indefinite leave to remain for 1 continuous year, you are eligible to apply for British citizenship. This comes after you must have lived in the UK for 5 years.
Having No Nationality At All
If you are not a citizen of any country, you can apply to become a British citizen, depending on where you were born.
If you had renounced your British citizenship, you can apply to become a citizen again.
EEA Settled Status
If you hold the “settled status” under the EU settlement program, you can apply for British citizenship. However, you must be at least 18 and have lived in the UK for 1 year after getting your EU settled status.
As a citizen of a commonwealth nation, you are eligible to apply for British citizenship if your parents moved to the UK before 1973.
For this to work, you must have been either born in the UK or migrated to the UK before you turned 18. You would also need to not have spent 2 consecutive years outside of the UK.
For you to apply for British citizenship by naturalisation, you must be at least 18. Children less than 18 can only do British citizenship registration. British law requires one to be at least 18 before applying so that such a person knows exactly what they are committing to and are doing so with a sound mind.
You must have had permanent residence for at least one year before applying for British citizenship. This is to ensure that you are no longer restricted by UK immigration rules on how long you can stay in the UK.
Must Be Resident in the UK
If you’re married to a UK citizen, you must have been living in the UK for at least 3 years. If you are not married to a British citizen, then you must have been living in the UK for at least 5 years.
Physical Presence in the UK
If you’re married to a UK citizen, you must have been physically present in the UK 3 years before the Home Office receives your application. For example, if the Home Office received your application on 27th July 2023, then you should have been physically present in the UK on 28th July 2020.
If you are not married to a British citizen, you must have been physically present in the UK 5 years before the Home Office receives your application. For example, if the Home Office received your application on 27th July 2023, then you should have been physically present in the UK on 28th July 2018.
Absence from the United Kingdom
If you’re married to a UK citizen, you must not have spent more than 270 days out of the United Kingdom within the 3 years you are required to have lived in the UK. You are also required not to have spent more than 90 days within the 12 months preceding your application.
If you are not married to a British citizen, you must not have spent more than 450 days out of the United Kingdom within the 5 years you are required to have lived in the UK. You are also required not to have spent more than 90 days within the 12 months preceding your application.
Before you apply for British citizenship, ensure that you have maintained good behaviour in the years you have spent in the UK. Criminal convictions hamper the approval of your British citizenship application.
English Language Requirements
You are required to know how to communicate fluently in English, Scottish Gaelic or Welsh. To prove this, you must take a language proficiency test.
Life in the UK Test
Another eligibility requirement you must meet if you are applying for British citizenship is passing the ‘Life in the UK’ test. This shows you are well-attuned and informed about the British people’s daily living, culture and politics.
Immigration Law Breach
In the 3 or 5 years you have spent in the UK, you must not have broken any immigration law.
Intention to Keep Living in the UK
Lastly, you must also prove that you intend to continue dwelling in the UK after you get your citizenship.
What Documents Do I Need to Register for British Citizenship?
There are certain documents the Home Office will require from you before they can decide on your case. Here are the documents:
- Proof of English language proficiency.
- Passport or birth certificate that proves your identity..
- Residence card or Biometric Residence Permit. This is to show the Home Office your immigration status in the UK.
- A result showing you passed the ‘Life in the UK’ test.
- Documents showing your immigration and travel history.
- Evidence of tax payment.
- Tenancy agreement or utility bill showing your address in the UK.
- Bank statement(s).
- Admission or employment letter.
- Reference Letters from 2 British citizens.
- Completed Form AN, Application for Naturalisation as a British citizen.
What are the British Citizenship Fees?
Here are the fees you have to pay during your application. Note that not all of these fees will be refunded if the Home Office rejects your application:
- £1,126 for the adult British citizenship fee.
- £1,250 for the naturalisation fee.
• £80 for the citizenship ceremony.
Who Can I Use as A Referee for My Citizenship Application?
Endorsement by 2 referees of high standing is an important thing required of you when making an application. The role of your referees is to lend credibility to the information you have supplied in your Form AN and other supporting documents.
The two referees must sign on Form AN (British citizenship application form) for it to be valid. For someone to be your referee, they:
- Must be a British citizen.
- Must not also be your relative in any way.
- Must not have been convicted of any criminal offence, at least for the past 10 years, before you make your application.
- Must be a high-standing member of a professional society. They can be a physician, priest, or member of any other recognised professional body. Note that your referees cannot be staff of the Home Office or your agent helping you make the application.
- Must be at least 25.
What is the Life in the UK Test?
You have to pass the ‘Life in the UK’ test to apply for British citizenship. It is a test that measures how well you know British culture, history, tradition, food, daily living and politics. You are given 45 minutes to supply answers to 24 questions. And you will need to score at least 75% to pass.
The cost of the ‘Life in the UK’ test is £50. You can keep retaking the test till you score at least 75%. Note that you will have to pay the same amount for every retake.
There are about 30 centres in the UK where you can write this test. Choose the centre nearest to you.
If you have already taken this test when applying for indefinite leave to remain, there is no need to retake it.
Applicants under 18, older than 65 or with any limiting mental or physical ailment are exempt from taking the test.
When going for your Life in the UK test, you must take your identity document with you. The document could be your European Union ID card, Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or passport. If you do not come with this, you will not be allowed to take the test.
Note that the identity document you will present at the centre must be the one you used in registering for the test.
You must prove to the Home Office that your English speaking and listening levels are satisfactory enough for you to blend into life in the UK. There are various means to show that you meet the English language requirement. Here are the means below:
You are from an English Speaking Country
If you are a citizen of a country on the English-speaking country list, you automatically meet this requirement.
You Passed the English Language Test
The Home Office requires applicants to meet the B1 CEFR English level. To show that you meet the requirement, you must pass a secure English language test (SELT). Your test must be administered by a test provider approved by the Home Office. These providers are:
- Trinity College London
- IELTS SELT Consortium
Note that the test result is only valid for two years. Also, when applying for citizenship, you only need to supply your unique reference number (URN) to the Home Office. They can use it to check your result.
If you have indefinite leave to remain, you do not need to prove your language skills again when applying for citizenship. Since you had already met that requirement when applying for ILR.
Graduate/Postgraduate Diploma from a University in the UK
If you have a graduate or postgraduate diploma from a university in the UK, you already meet the language requirement.
Degree from a Country that Majorly Speaks English
If your country is not on the English-speaking country list, but you have a degree from a country on the list, you may meet the language requirement. You will need a statement from Ecctis showing that your qualification is the same as a UK qualification.
Degree Taught in English from a Non-English Speaking Country
Assuming you obtained a degree taught in English from a non-English speaking country, you may meet the language requirement. But you will need to have your qualification assessed by Ecctis to ensure it is the same as a UK degree.
Again, you must also obtain an English Language Proficiency Statement (ELPS) from Ecctis, proving you were taught in English.
Degree from the UK
If you obtained a degree certificate (Bachelor’s, Master’s or PHD) from a UK university, you automatically meet the English language requirement. However, you will need to submit your certificate while making your application.
Note that you do not have to meet the English language requirement if you are above 65 or have certain mental or physical impairment.
What is the Difference Between British Citizenship and ILR?
British citizenship and ILR confer the right to applicants to stay in the UK permanently. With citizenship and ILR, you can live, study and work in the UK as long as you want. You are also free from immigration restrictions.
Both can give you access to free healthcare and public funds. You can also have your family members join you.
However, there are differences between the both. If you have indefinite leave to remain, you must not stay outside of the UK for more than 2 years. If you do, your permanent residence will be revoked, and you will have to reapply. Whereas, with British citizenship, you can stay outside the UK for as long as you want.
Again, British citizenship gives you the right to apply for a British passport, but the ILR does not. With a British passport, you can visit certain countries without a visa.
Lastly, with British citizenship, you can vote and be voted for during elections. Whereas with indefinite leave to remain, you can only vote during elections.
What if I Don't Meet the Good Character Citizenship Requirement?
The British nationality act requires that people applying for British citizenship must be of good character and have a clean criminal record. If you have been convicted of an offence, this may hamper the approval of your application.
If you have been convicted in the past and would want to know what to do, you can speak to any of our immigration lawyers. They will give you the expert opinion that you need. Call us on 0121 667 6530 to begin or contact us online for this.
What is the British Citizenship Ceremony?
A British citizen ceremony is an event organised by the Home Office to recognise those who have had a successful British citizenship application process. You must attend this ceremony as it is the last step before you are recognised as a citizen. At the ceremony, you are expected to pledge loyalty to the crown and the laws of the UK. You are also expected to promise to abide by the rules of the UK government.
British citizenship application is a serious affair. It demands meeting every eligibility requirement and making the correct application to avoid a refusal. At Birmingham Immigration Lawyers, our team can guide you in making a strong British citizenship application.
We can help you gather all the required documents and also serve as your representative before the Home Office. We can plead your case to avoid rejection. If you applied yourself and got a refusal, our experienced lawyers are also available to help you appeal.
Our lawyers can also make the application on your behalf, as this ensures the quality of the application.
If you had a criminal conviction in time past, we can review the offence and also give you bespoke advice on how to go about your application without being rejected.
For more information about British citizenship requirements, how to apply and help with any kind of UK visa application, call us on 0121 667 6530 to begin your journey or contact us online today.
Last modified on August 29th, 2023 at 6:41 am
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It is not possible to track your citizenship application status online. But what you can do is contact the Home office to know the status of your application. Most British citizenship applications take 3 to 6 months to be processed. So, waiting for at least 6 months before contacting the Home Office concerning your application is advisable.
Dual citizenship is allowed in the UK. You do not need to relinquish your other nationality while applying for British citizenship. Also, you can be a citizen of multiple countries while retaining your status as a British citizen.
It is essential, however, that you know the policy of the other country concerning dual or multiple citizenships. Some countries do not allow dual citizenship. So, if you are a national of such a country, getting British citizenship means renouncing your former nationality.
A refugee can acquire British citizenship. However, the route they have to take differs from what others will take. As a refugee or person in an asylum, you must pass through some stages before you become a citizen.
First, you must have lived in the UK for at least 5 years. This is called temporary residence status.
Secondly, you must pass an active review to become a probationary citizen. For the active review, you must not have any criminal record and must have passed the Life in the UK Test. This probationary citizenship can last from 1 to 3 years, depending on your situation.
After spending time as a probationary citizen, you can now apply to become a full citizen.
As an EEA national, who has stayed in the UK for 5 years, you are eligible for British citizenship.Then, you can apply for permanent residence. If you get indefinite leave to remain, you have to hold it for a year before applying for British citizenship. There are eligibility requirements to meet for your application to be approved.
You can apply to renounce your British nationality. Many do so because they are about to become citizens of a country that does not permit its citizens to hold dual nationalities.
If you want to renounce British citizenship, you have to apply to the Home Office. If your request is approved, you will get a declaration of renunciation showing that you are no longer a citizen. Do note that you must be 18 and above in order to renounce your citizenship. The Home Office places the age limit to ensure you are fully aware of your actions.